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How to Get Funny with YouTube Subscribers (Part 1)

September 15, 2015 by George Avgerakis

The key to YouTube, which celebrates  its tenth anniversary this year, is the exponential growth of live desktop video production. It all started when online video went viral. “Going viral,” a term coined to describe the sudden popularity of a YouTube clip as it is shared over social networks, gave fame to four new genres: Cats, Fails, Babes, and Shocks. A Fail, like Star Wars Kid, an early viral, obtained the attention of broadcast star, Stephen Colbert who created the Green Screen Challenge. A Shock, like Antone Dodson’s reaction to his sister being attacked in her bedroom, went viral and served as fodder for The Gregory Brothers who applied Auto-Tune enhancements and catapulted themselves to viral fame.

While viral videos get hits, regular YouTube shows get subscribers, and big subscriber lists get you serious attention. For instance, if you get 10,000 or more subscribers, you are invited to come down to the YouTube space nearest you and enjoy free use of the facilities for one day a month. At six such “spaces” (New York, Los Angeles, London, São Paulo, Tokyo, and Berlin) you get the studios, lights, sets, cameras, dollies, TriCasters, technicians - the best in the business - and dozens of creative people just like you, collaborating in new and exciting ways.

For these YouTube Studios, TriCaster presents the most cost effective way of combining dozens of essential creative tools, tools that once cost thousands of dollars each, into one economic package. This package makes it incredibly easy to launch a regularly scheduled show on the web and then to record and load that show onto YouTube: This type of show is called a “strip show” in the broadcast industry. Examples of classic broadcast strips are The Tonight Show, Wheel of Fortune, The Daily Show and Squawk Box.

The technical requirements are rather simple and relatively inexpensive. A small space with a background, two or more chairs, and a desk - (the “set”); two or more cameras; some lights; and a way to connect the cameras together into one video signal (the “switcher”) and convert the signal into a compressed, online stream. Presto! You’ve got a strip show. Oh, and you’ll need a host, a guest, and a few people in the “audience” to clap and cheer.

“Streaming,” means you send the show out “live” over the Internet. You can also stream live over YouTube Live or a number of other live streaming services. We’ll get into more detail about the above, but let’s see a few examples.

Tom Green’s Webovision

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Tom Green, writer, producer, comic performer, first achieved media prominence via MTV as the star of The Tom Green Show. He also appeared in several feature films, including Charlie’s Angels.  Like many performers, Green sought a means of taking control of his destiny away from the Hollywood hacks that determine when and for how short a time any performer can make a living. After producing some of his own prank-style YouTube clips, Tom devised a strip show concept, Tom Green’s Webovision. A spoof on The Tonight Show format, Tom may get less than 5,000 hits per month, but his subscriptions are slowly climbing toward 10,000, which will earn him one day a month at the LA YouTube Space. Will he need it? We don’t think so.

Here’s a best-hit-rated Webovision episode where the guest is tattoo star, Kat Von D.

One of the cameras will show you the entire studio. Green himself can do most of the operation from the laptop on his desk. Note that he brings in a Skype fan, live, from some remote location. Greene is using NewTek’s TalkShow device. Employing the enhanced Skype TX format, TalkShow allows Greene to include HD quality remote sources from anywhere on the planet. Green’s remote fan talks to guest, Kat, providing a rich audience participation experience. Perhaps the guest didn’t focus his laptop camera well, but this funkiness is part of the charm of the show.

Also notice that Green has assembled a good sized, enthusiastic audience. Apparently he gathered at the local donut shop! I don’t think there is a reader of this blog that would find it a serious challenge to replicate this formula.  The question is - can you replicate Tom Green?

So, okay, maybe not Tom Green. Maybe you say, “I’m better looking than Tom Green, but I can write funny stuff.”

Well, maybe Adam Carolla’s your idol.

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Adam Carolla got his start writing for radio and TV for Jimmy Kimmel, then got on MTV with The Man Show and Crank Yankers, both cable broadcast strip shows. Not satisfied with waiting to get more work from the establishment, Adam bought a TriCaster and started producing his own live TV talk shows similar in format to other radio personalities like Don Imus and Howard Stern (for whose morning shows he has hosted).

Have a look at one of Adam Carolla’s webshows, where his guest is film and radio celebrity, Jay Mohr.

This simple strip show concept (rating over 10,000 hits) is well shot and has interesting content that keeps viewers coming back for more.  In 2009, it was estimated that Carolla’s monthly server bill was $9,000, indicating that his profits from shows distributed out of that server must have been considerably higher.

Chris Laxamana, who works the show, says, “Currently at Carolla we’re using the TriCaster 850 Extreme hooked up to 5 Sony BRC-Z330 cameras.  The board is a Presonus studioLive mixer hooked up to Rode Broadcaster mics.  We used to stream on Ustream, and have since moved to YouTube.”

Brian Sheil - Before and Behind the Camera

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Rounding out our trio of comics, is Brian Sheil - my personal idol - and the guy who best represents what revolutionary TV is all about. Sheil straddles two careers - stand-up comic and streaming video producer. One of the first Certified TriCaster Operators, Sheil provides the entire webcast production package for the American Music Awards, the MTV Movie and Music Awards, and is the Technical Director of the Magic and Comedy Club in Hermosa Beach, CA, where he also takes the stage as both the MC and a featured comic. “TriCaster is just about the most important thing in my career as a TV producer,” says Sheil, “And it could very well be the key to my stand-up career as well.”

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Shooting as often as two gigs a day, Sheil is way beyond doing a static strip show and specializes in “make the show wherever you want the show to be.” Doing so however, takes a larger inventory of equipment. For instance, you will see he has invested in “talk-back” boxes that allow his cameramen to talk back to a technical director who is running the switcher and possibly directing the entire show. He has the kind of inventory you can build after a few years of maxing out your YouTube subscriptions. WCChulu2-300x169

Brian Sheil is perhaps the most in-demand tech guy in the live web streaming world, but comedy is in his soul. Sheil perfected the typical 7-minute sample of his stand-up routine and took it to an agent presentation. The agent never saw a single joke, because the appointment was interrupted by an urgent call from a club. Sheil got sent out. On stage, Sheil had an insane inspiration and dumped his routine to improv instead. He killed it. Then, using NewTek hardware, Sheil had spent years producing YouTube clips of his work which got steady hits and subscribers. He produced a series which became a YouTube partner, Stand Up Bits, but says he had no real idea if anyone in the industry was taking notice. Then one day, “I decided to completely toss in the towel on stand-up comedy and concentrate on my TV production business, which was doing very, very well.” That very afternoon he got a call from YouTube executives asking him to produce directly for YouTube. Immediately after that, Hulu contacted him to produce for them and to host what became West Coast Comedy.   Suddenly, Brian Sheil was all over online comedy webcasting as both a producer and an on-camera talent.

An enthusiastic evangelist for NewTek products, Sheil says, “I highly recommend watching every tutorial on the NewTek site. They’re all free, excellent and easy to understand. When you’re ready, take the online tests to get certified. That’s the secret sauce. There are still very few Certified Operators on the list, especially in second-tier cities, and make no mistake: Once on the list, you will get called for work.”

Asked what or who got Sheil interested in NewTek in the first place, he doesn’t mince words. “Kiki Stockhammer!” he exclaims, naming the iconic, red-headed evangelist that began selling Video Toasters at video tech events in 1990. Kiki still demos for NewTek at all major road shows. “Yep,” he confirms, “And to this day I still wonder, ‘Is it considered stalking if I follow Kiki on Twitter?’”

Here is a sample of what Sheil has stashed:

  • 3 - Sony PMW-EX3 cameras, tripods, batteries, A/C
  • 3 - Sony PMW-EX1 cameras, tripods, batteries, A/C
  • 3 - Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition cameras
  • 3 - Panasonic HVX 170 cameras, tripods, batteries, A/C
  • 3 - Sony V-iUHD cameras, tripods, batteries, A/C
  • 1 - 20’ John Jib Camera Crane, fully remote powered head for 30 lbs. load
  • 1 - NewTek Tricaster TCXD-455-HD, 2 monitors, control survace, 1 swap ISO drive
  • 2 - NewTek Tricaster TCXD-300-HD, 2 monitors
  • 4 - Pro Sports Commentator IFB comms system RTS-4010/400
  • 1 - IFB with Dal Tech talk-back boxes (4 station)
  • 10 - Par-Can 38 stage and back lights
  • 4 - Mole Richardson 2K soft Zip Light audience lights
  • 20 - Mole Richardson 1K soft Zip Lights /
  • 12 - SBX166A – Dual Gate/Comp/Limiter (8Channels)
  • 1 - 15’X9’ green chromakey screen
  • 6 - Lectrosonic Wireless LAV Packages Block 21
  • 8 - Road NT-5 Audience microphones with all cabling
  • 1 - Tascam TMD 4000 digital mixing console
  • 2 - Mackie 1604 VLS mixing consoles
  • 1 - Soundcraft SI Expressions 16 Channel Spirit digital console
  • 1 - Tascam M-1516 16 Channel Multimix Console
  • 4 - Sennhiser-EW100 wireless microphones
  • 1 - Lexicon MPX-550
  • 4 - Yamaha SPX 990 98
  • 4 - Rane ME 15B graphic equalizer
  • 2 - Yamaha SPX50D
  • 1 - ARTFXR multi-effects processor Check out our other articles by George Avergerakis:

  • How To Videotape or Interview a C-level Executive (Part 1)
  • How To Videotape or Interview a C-level Executive (Part 2)
  • Tips for a Great C-Level Presentation
  • The Low Cost 3 Camera Production Recipe
  • Shooting Multi-Camera Exteriors Learn more about Live Production and Streaming

Broadcast - Web, Home Page, Live Production, TriCaster,

Adam Carolla, Brian Sheil, Mole Richardson, Panasonic HVX-170, Par-Can 38, Sony V-iUHD, Tom Green, TriCaster, YouTube Live,


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